We're getting ruder and more inconsiderate as a society. We're not only less formal — we used to call each other Mister, Missus, and Miss — but people are forgetting even simple manners we were all supposed to learn when we were kids.
When I was a kid, manners were easy. You opened the door for other people. You said "please," "thank you," and "you're welcome. You gave up your bus seat to seniors. And children sat still and behaved in restaurants.
Over the last few years, I've witnessed some abhorrent behavior from people who are close enough to my age that they should know better. They won't open the door for anyone. They rarely say "please," while "you're welcome" has become "no prob!" Seniors are on their own on the bus or anywhere else. And children are allowed to run amok and shriek loudly in restaurants.
What has happened that we no longer care about basic civilities? Since when did it become too burdensome to hold a door open? When did it become acceptable to race ahead of someone, open the door slightly, and slip through, leaving the other person to fend for themselves?
This is behavior normally only seen while driving, especially in the more affluent parts of my city, where rudeness reigns.
Since when did parents decide that children should publicly experience their emotions to the fullest, and will let the screaming brats "cry it out," as the parents go "shh shh shh" in the caterwauling child's ear, whether in a restaurant, movie, or church?
These last few days, I've been at Disney World, the most magical place on Earth. The place where peoples from all nations come together in a massive gathering of peace, harmony, and $12 hamburgers. And I have witnessed some of the most impolite, unkind, and rude behavior.
I have seen people take flash photography in a completely darkened room, where a couple hundred people had gathered. Even though the Disney cast member has asked us to please not take flash photos, someone decides those rules don't apply to her, and snaps her flash, blinding everyone else nearby.
(On one ride, someone snapped a picture directly across from me, "zombie eyes flash" and all. When the first flash went off, I photobombed their shot, wagging a stern finger of warning in their direction. That's one for the album.)
Even the basic rules of "let shorter people in front" have fallen by the wayside. While watching a fireworks display one night, two tall men made sure they had prime spots at a fence railing, standing in front of a little old lady in a wheelchair, her grandson, and several other children so they could have the best view.
Even 20 years ago, these men would have stepped aside to let the shorter people have the better view. It's not like they didn't know any better. These were men in their 60s. Men, one would hope, who were of the age to be taught to be respectful.
They grew up in the days when you held the door open for women, said "yes sir" and "yes ma'am," and children did not go to restaurants. And yet, one 6-foot guy stood at a fence railing and saved a spot for his 6'5" friend, making sure they were the only ones who could enjoy the view.
We already over-exercise our right to feel indignant at the slightest offense. People complain about the tiniest things and expect royal treatment as a groveling apology. They're outraged — OUTRAGED! — at a song lyric, a minor difference of political or theological opinion, or that someone else prefers meat to soy.
They'll rant and rave, bully the offender on Facebook, and and compare them to Hitler, all in the same breath.
Because, apparently there are no more injustices in the world to rail against, so they have to find a place to channel their God-given sense of righteous indignation about the stupidest things.
(And yes, I recognize the irony about writing an entire humor column to rant about other people's sense of indignation.)
But these same people will turn around and commit ruder, larger offenses against others, simply because they don't want to be a little inconvenienced, or because Yoga Teacher Sven said little Ashlynn and Reese need to purge their sadness energies.
Apparently, it's only offensive and rude when someone else does it to them. But they're free to inflict their own brand of rudeness on others in the name of individuality and personal freedom, and they'll get in your face if you don't let them exercise it.
What can we do about it all? We can complain. We can loudly denounce people in public for their boorish behavior. But we'll become one of those righteously indignant jerks everyone else roll their eyes at.
Just don't take flash photography in a darkened room, because you never know who might be photobombing your picture. And it may not be their pointer finger they're waving at you.
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